Study: Millennials don’t want brands to stalk them

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Credits: Gerd Altmann  / pixelio.de

Credits: Gerd Altmann / pixelio.de

The vision of social networks was to create a better exchange between people – whether near or far. But where is consumers, there’s also brands trying to reach out with advertising to them on any available platform. A recent study now shows that Millennials are not really happy with the social advertising activities.

According to the study of Harris Poll (conducted on behalf of Lithium Technologies), that addressed more than 2,300 consumers of all generations, more than half of all digital natives (56%) report to cut back or stop the use of social media platforms entirely.

Even more, 75% of the responding Millenials stated that they feel stalked by brands on social platforms. The reason: The eager way brands do target them in their news feed with the ambition to build trust and loyalty with their customers or consumers via social media platforms in the U.S.

So, what does this mean for brands? Do brands have to live according to a transformed version of the former cold call prevention: „Don’t stalk us, we follow you!“? The study suggests that direct targeting on social platforms via advertising might result in losing customers. It would be more effective to engage and to be present on the channels they use frequently. And also if brands might be tempted to leverage the huge purchasing power coming from the modern generations (Millennials and Gen Z make up 50% of the population), brands need to be careful not to waste the potential of social media and really meet their personal expectations. How challenging this might be in the end…

„The promise of social technologies has always been about connecting people, not shouting at them, and the brands that don’t do this risk their very existence.“ Rob Tarkoff, President&CEO, Lithium Technologies.

But how can brands build trust, the study also asked? A question that is also raised in a bi-annual study from Nielsen and might be evaluated in comparison with those results. Obviously, online is their general source of information but their trust in online exceeds that of former generations by far.

Lithium Online Trust 2016

While in the Nielsen study, personal „recommendations from people I know“ are leading, Lithium sees „online sites with product reviews“ as the highest form of online trust creation. That websites are definitely not „dead“ can be seen that both studies see websites kind of in the second place. And, whereas Lithium sees „communities of like-minded people“ in the third place (just think about what their main product was…), Nielsen sees editorial content still a very important source.

In terms of service, the Lithium study shows that Millennials contact brands online (79%) and expect a response back within the same day – almost 10% more than Baby Boomers. So, if brands do not actively monitor and engage with the younger generations online, their brand loyalty might go down soon. The best way to interact with Millennials is described in a quote the study also delivers…

„I go on social media to see and know what my friends are doing. I don’t want to see ads clutter my news feed. If I’m interested in a product or service, I know where to look. Social media is a place for us to connect with our friends, not be attacked by advertisements.“ Mallory Benham, Graduate Student (23)

So, what are your learning on targeting Millennials and Gen Z via ads on social media?

The value of (online) influencers: An attempt to define an undefined digital species

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They blog from the first row at catwalks. They share cool design gadgets on Instagram. They strike a pose with a selfie in front of 5-star hotels on Pinterest. And, they record „Let’s plays“ for Youtube while testing the latest computer games. The one thing they have in common? They are online influencers. A digital species that challenges and changes the marketing world of models, testimonials and the publishing industry.

According to an annual Nielsen study, it is a common knowledge that people trust most in recommendations of people they know. In the past, marketers put models or celebrities in this „recommendation seat“. It was meant to address two benefits: Brands intended to grasp some of the consumers’ attention by trying to hitch-hike on the wave of VIP awareness and public relevance. And, they used the reach of magazines and the trust those public voices had for the people.

Nielsen Study Trust 2015

It seems to me that the tables are turning now, and marketers have to rethink their brand extension strategy.

1. Models – the personalization dilemma
When using models, brands couldn’t tell exactly which audience they were addressing. It was a marketers’ and model agent’s best guess which model fits which brand. However, a model does not have a transparent target-group. They are just faces without any open address books or lead list.

Social influencers are their own agents. Their content markets their personality, their personality defines their content, their reach expresses their quality. They have got fans, followers, and friends that everybody (not only when following them) can see. A clear defined and dynamic target-group that is commited to them and engages with them on a regular basis. What they say gets read. What they state is trusted. In fact, their consumer opinion becomes one of the most trusted sources that people believe in – more than traditional ads of any kind.

Just imagine the influence on purchase intent, when an influencer is posting online to a large audience of friends and fans. Social influencers are perceived of their active and growing audiences as „more real“ than models, somehow even as „friends“.

But also the traditional model business is affected by the upcoming influencer trend: Previously interchangeable and relatively anonymous faces are now increasingly becoming personal brands thanks to their personalized Instagram and Snapchat channels and/or (mostly fashion- and beauty related) blogposts. Consequently, numerous models with significant reach are also acting as influencers to their audiences.

2. Testimonials – the authenticity dilemma
Testimonials need to match brand authenticity and follow the brand message in order to become valuable for marketers. Serious investment in dollars does not allow a testimonial’s mistake. Contracts are long-term and include testimonial involvement not only in all brand campaigns but also in personal PR and marketing engagement during the contracting period.

Money counts for testimonials – as much as monetary rewards do for online influencers. This is definitely true for the fashion and beauty industry, states the „Fashion & Beauty Monitor“ report in partnership with Econsultancy named „The Rise of Influencers„. However, three out of five surveyed influencers believe that the „relevance of brand in relation to own area of expertise „is essential when collaborating with marketers. Influencers are very well aware of their personality as brand that has to be secured and consequently, they do not sell everything just because they are asked to. Of course, this in return means a certain loss of control for marketers when working with powerful influencers. Just to state an example, years ago, I offered MINI a cool opportunity to collaborate with me. I fear the idea never reached the BMW four-cylinder tower – perhaps for fear of losing brand control?

Think about it: How authentic can testimonials be that are selected by brands as of their popularity in sports, fashion and lifestyle? Testimonials sell their media value. On the contrary, engagement with influencers can only work when brands do not act too commercial with them and meet their personal authenticity. Social influencers are personal brands; authentic brands that companies can collaborate with.

3. Publishers – the relevance dilemma
When content from influencers gets more attention (and is trusted more) than content from advertising, relevance becomes a critical tipping point. For years, marketers and PR experts were convinced that „serious“ traditional publishers are more relevant to readers than bloggers or any other form of social media active people. Thus, they invested serious dollars in brand building activities with the publishing industry. Today, these very media houses are approaching influencers to increase their declining media value.

A recent study by Collective Bias shows that content from influencers is viewed for more than 2 minutes (which is 7 times longer than the digital display ad average with a view time of just 19.2 seconds). Plus the relevance of someone’s personal opinion -whether rating, recommendation or review- has become of high value for consumers. Now if content from an influencer is relevant and perceived as being „authentic“ , publishing is facing serious competition in the future.

However, relevance needs to meet relevance both ways. Just putting brand messages into the mouth of online influencers won’t accelerate a brand’s value. In order to become relevant to an influencer and his or her audience, a brand needs to be „love-brand“ in a social influencer’s mind. If not, the influencer will be perceived (and probably also act) like a traditional publishing product without a media-kit.

Solving the dilemma – budget and advertising strategy
The world of testimonials, models and publishing is changing with the rise of influencers.
More and more companies and brands start working with social influencers. I personally doubt that they will completely replace models, testimonials and publishing houses, but the future will tell. However, the world of recommendations will be redefined by a new species.

Nielsen Study Recommendation 2015

According to a recent #BrandofMe study, brands invested 1 Bio. USD in 2015 in influencer programs on Instagram only. Influencers earn between 500 and 10.000 USD per Instagram photo or Youtube video – obviously depending on their media reach. Which means that some influencers get paid as much as some publishers for their ad space. A lot of budget that moves away from traditional brand building worlds.

The question is what values more to brands in terms of business impact: tradition or progression. But that question can only be answered when brands understand the power that online influencers can have on and in the sharing economy.

Study: Social Media making millennials less social

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Sorry millennials! Us, the Baby Boomers, we have suspected this for quite a while. While you might be reading this post on your smartphone, you are probably somewhere in a park, in a bar or a coffee shop, chatting up some of your fellows. Ever considered to stop reading this during the conversation, or better before you started talking?

In a recent study by Flashgap (which findings come close to a study from 2014), it becomes clear how obsessed millennilas are with social media and how much it is affecting their social lives. The study states that 87% of millennials admitted that they are distracted by their smartphones when they are going out.

Now, this might be some predjudice from males but females seem to be slightly more addicted. 76% of females replied they do check social media platforms 10 and more times when they are out of home. Their male counterparts are less active with just 54% answering accordingly.

Flashgap Study 2015 Unsocial Millennials

Now, the question is why the millennials are so engaged in their social media lives? The answer ist hat more than half of all millennials (54%) fear to miss out on the latest news, when they are not checking social networks regularly.

The funny thing is that many millennials (74%) do post when drunk, but in the end regret it afterwards. Whether it is the drunk selfies, any kind of revelations of love to exes friends or any other sort of revealing messages that go along streams and messages. 71% of millennials regretted posting a picture on a social network after more than 3 drinks.

Spot On!
So, why is Flashgap promoting this study? They have got a new app that might become the answer to saving millennials from social media nightmares. Flashgap is a time-delayed photo-sharing app. With over 150,000 users, Flashgap could really become a solution. And guess what?! The app was inspired by the bachelor party film, ‘The Hangover’. Surprised?

Overview on Social Selling Tools (Interactive Infographic)

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If you want to get an overview on Social Selling tools, you need to follow the industry very closely as this market has become quite dynamic. Furthermore, the value of each tool (CRM suites, monitoring solutions or engagement technologies) or platform (Twitter, LinkedIn, etc.) may vary. The question for many marketers is which tool does really give some value add to the business. Most marketers often tell us that they need some kind of an overview on which social selling tool they should use.

Now, the guys at Sales For Life have come up with some interesting approach that showcases all tools for the various sales stages: prospecting, qualifying, researching, nurturing, presenting, closing, and retention. Just click here to get to their interactive infographic.

For those of you who do not understand the value of Social Selling, we advice on some infographic based on a study by PeopleLinx. It shows the best platforms to use and states that 76% of sales reps consider LinkedIn as the most valuable social media network strongly before Twitter, Facebook or Google+.

What we also can see is from our projects is that not many companies offer an appropriate support and training on social selling. 11% of respondents stated their employers offer training on social selling. However, the benefits are striking. When reps get training on social selling, the adoption climbs from 28% to 74%.

Now, if that is not the right argument to start social selling today?!

Social Selling 2015 Infographic

Study: Marketers biggest social media challenges in 2015

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One of the latest reports around social media tells us that measuring ROI (60%) is still the most challenging aspect for marketers when facing all their social media efforts. This is the main message from a report by Simply Measured and TrustRadius.

The findings that are based on some survey data from almost 600 social media practitioners between February and March 2015 also show that other top challenges are tying social activities to business outcomes (50%), developing a social media strategy (48%), and securing enough internal resources (40%).

Social Media Challenges Trustradius 2015

Although the main message is clear, there are some small variances between company sizes when separated int small businesses (1-50 employees), midsize companies (51-1,000 employees), and enterprises (more than 1,000 employees). While smaller companies struggle setting up and developing their own social media strategy, enterprises are trying to secure enough internal resources to master their social media efforts.

The integration of social media into the overall business is also a big way to go obviously. First of all is the alignment of social media goals with the overall business goals not fully connected. But even more challenging is the question whether all the efforts generate some business impact. Many marketers are working intensely with data and analytics to optimize their marketing strategies but the proof seems not yet been given.

Maybe this is all based on the missing tool strategy, which is also one of the major findings of the report (not surprisingly based on study makers). How to manage and measure social media activities, is often not a question of whether companies know the tools but still they are predominantly sourcing the monitoring out for example, and then wonder why data gets not interpreted properly. Also, some are not happy with their tool choice.

Social Media Metrics Trustradius 2015

Spot On!
The findings are not surprising when the targets from all three company sizes is brand awareness. Still, companies should be able to better understand KPIs in the social selling process. It seems that companies and brands still have not yet understood the value of a friend, follower, LIKE, share or a comment. Furthermore, they still do not have the opportunity to link their data findings and their social media engagement back to some CRM database in order to leverage data sets around their customers. Furthermore, the missing social sales strategy combined with a clear lead processing and management is essential, and most companies do not have an answer here. Obviously, a lot of support in the social media set-up is still appreciated.

Not? Then tell us what you think…

Salesforce tells us how to perfection our Instagram strategy (Infographic)

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Instagram is the rockstar kid on the social media street these days… at least among the younger generations GenY and GenZ as far as we can argue from our latest advice and studies we are seeing all over the world. And when users have shared over 30 billion photos on one platform that tells a trend.

Now, many marketers wonder wether they should invest in Instagram to create new content, how often they shall share something, and in which way to present their brand to their target group. Salesforce offers some interesting advice with an infographic called „Say cheese!“.

Salesforce thinks that posting quality photos on a regular basis is one of the key tactics.

Regular? Well, find the „balance between over-saturation and falling to the wayside“. Understood? No? Maybe try not to put yourself in the focus of your brand and company name in pictures all the time.

Quality? Whatever that means as it stays in some way undefined. Maybe they mean types of photos more than quality of photos. Their advice is to use previews of upcoming products or events, and employees.

Style? „Write clear and engaging descriptions that reflect and enforce your brand’s message“. However, the question remains what engaging descriptions are. The answer we think would be to include questions in descriptions: Ask, ask, ask.

Spot On!
Our main advice would be to reach out to those Instagram users that are sharing content that engages already others that might be in your brand customer range. And somehow the secret sauce is: Re-post, re-share and comment. Don’t always think about many own accounts on Instagram. Just make sure „you don’t look like a robot.“

Salesforce-Instagram-Strategy-Infographic

Why fans and friends unfollow brands on Facebook, Twitter & Linkedin (Infographic)

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Some years ago, the guys at ExactTarget told us why people follow and unfollow brands on social networks and other communication platforms. Time for an update you think? Well, here we go…

The guys at BuzzStream and Fractl conducted some research, asking more than 900 people on why they unfollow brands on social networks. With their And the infographic The Unfollow Algorithm they share their findings with us.

First of all, the big winner seems to be Linkedin. Almost only half of all companies or brands (49%) need to fear that they get unfollowed by their users. More problematic seems to be Facebook: 25% of the respondents said that they unfollowed a brand’s official social media page in the last month. And, also Twitter is losing out: 12% of Twitter users stated they unfollowed a brand in the last few days.

So what are the main reasons for the „unfollow algorithm“? Well, the main reasons is that content of brands becomes repetitive and boring – 21% made clear they will unfollow a brand then. The frequency of posting is also ritical for users. If a brand posts too frequently (over 6 times per day) people will unfollow the brand page.

And what do people want? Almost every one in four (22%) claimed that „images“ is the most preferred content type posted by brands.

What is your opinion, and why would you unfollow a brand on a social network?

Unfollow brands Facebook, Twitter & Linkedin

Report: B2B content, networks and tactics on Social Media

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Very often the question in our seminars come up which platforms, content types and tactics to use on social media. Now, a recent report by Eccolo Media enlightens us – although it has to be mentioned that the basis for the survey was a fair small number of 100 people responsible for influencing or making B2B technology buying decisions (33% influencers, 67% decision makers) but conducted in a series of three different reports.

The survey makes clear that just about every one in three B2B technology buyer (38%) states to not have seen any content from vendors on social networks over the past six months that influenced a business purchase. And now just think how much time you invest in all your information process towards B2B buyers.

Eccolo media 2015 Channel Selection

It also found that 34% of responding people claimed they have seen vendor content on Facebook in the past six months that helped with a purchase decision. Now, this might be as the base was predominantly US marketers but still it shows the power and influence of the biggest social network also on B2B tech buyers. LinkedIn came in as the second most influential network. 32% said they found meaningful content there, Google+ was mentioned by 28%, YouTube 27%, and Twitter 20%.

The early stage decisions in the sales cycle is for tech buyers most useful when it comes to finding content on social media. However, the challenge is awareness (31%) and understanding (36%).

Eccolo media 2015 Sales Cycle

In terms of the content most welcomed and consumed 25% of the surveyed people think case studies from vendors on social media are best to work with. Further content types they liked to consume were technology guides (16%) and whitepapers (16%).

Eccolo media 2015 Which content

The use of Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Tumblr and Instagram in 2015 (Infographic)

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The social networking landscape is changing massively over the last years. Curation and aggregation of content becomes a big game changer through new ways of sharing, new platforms and modern technologies. Some new data from eMarketer explains the main gains and chains of social networking.

„Let’s face it: As much as we complain about those over-sharers who inundate us with baby photos and vacation snapshots, we’re still in love with social networking.“ Debra Aho Williamson, Pricipal Analyst, eMarketer

The next big thing will be mobile social networking, where Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest and Tumblr will become the prominent players. So, let’s see how eMarketer predicts the social networking future for the next two years.

eMarketer Social Networking 2015

Social Network Leaders for Business

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Adobe’s CMO.com did a great job in summarizing the leading social networks for business in one nice infographic alongside their CMO Guide to The Social Landscape. The marketing technology company checked each of the platforms according to four criteria: brand awareness, customer communication, SEO and traffic generation.

Obviously and not surprising, the leading platforms are Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and YouTube. From our experience not all marketers are aware of the importance to change the contents for each platform and not just run them in different timings. The target-groups on the various platforms may be quite different, thus their interests in content and context as well as their wants and needs might vary extremely – although they might be the same people sometimes.

YouTube will probably become the leading platform when the whole world is more driven by Millennials and their input. Although you might be thinking about funny videos, going viral now, most of the business content can be manuals, employer branding stuff, or even product explanation videos. The opportunities are massive and it is time for marketers to realize.

In the B2B space, Slideshare might be a new platform for marketers. The chances are big here as well, as companies and brands get the option to show presentations from various standpoints. Especially, if the company is addressing different stakeholders in a purchase process, it is sometimes good to open up some thoughts before the meeting, so stakeholders can prepare. And, how often did presentations before meetings not go through as of company email file restrictions…?!

Obviously, Google+, Instagram, Pinterest play a role from a corporate brand perspective. And Google+ especially from a SEO and content marketing point of view. However, we are still at the beginning and every case needs to be evaluated on its own.

Any important platform you are missing in the top 8 social networks?

CMO_Social_Landscape_2014

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